Spiritan Features

Looking back at a year on a Pastoral Experience Programme in Ireland Tewodros Awala Meles C.S.Sp.

Adjusting to life in Ireland

I will long remember my year in Ireland where I did my Pastoral Experience Programme in Ballintubber / Ballymoe, a rural – and beautiful – Spiritan parish in Ireland’s Diocese of Elphin. 

Away from my native Ethiopia, I was exposed to a culture different from my own. I started to think more broadly and to see things in a new light.  At first, I asked myself: “How do I adjust to this society, one that is more advanced in technology, with a different culture?” My answer was to be open and to try, without judging, to see things not from my own cultural perspective but from that of Irish society.  To put aside my own culture and learn a new one took time but I managed. I had no problem with the food – in fact I liked it!  The weather? Sometimes we got four seasons in a day!

Changed times and lessons learned

The Catholic Church in Ireland was powerful until some years ago but times have changed. The scandal of abuse by priests and co-workers caused some people to abandon the Church and I would not blame them for distancing themselves.  This, of course, is not the complete picture of a Church which has done tremendous work for years. The good thing is that even those who have anger or hatred towards the Church still have some Christian values. 

I think that there is a lesson to be learned for all who are called to shepherd the people: “Try to be shepherds not wolves, and lead by example”. Also, we should be aware that society is in a state of change. While people in Ireland, especially the youth, attend Mass in smaller numbers than in Ethiopia, they do Christian work such as fundraising for those in need. 

To sum it up, I enjoyed the time that I spent in Ireland. I learned a lot from the people who are friendly, polite, welcoming and easy-going. I was warmly welcomed.  It was a good experience.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh!

I would like to thank the people of Ballintubber / Ballymoe for their hospitality and generosity. I especially thank those individuals who helped me with language, who took me to football games and to see sights such as Ballintubber Abbey. Go raibh míle maith agaibh! 

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Tewodros has recently returned to east Africa to continue his training for the priesthood.